City People

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The Independent Online
TEMPERANCE PAYS. It's official. The Rechabite Friendly Society has announced far higher annual bonuses on its savings bonds this year than the rest of the financial services industry - not least because it is run by and for teetotallers.

The Manchester-based Society has just informed its 25,000-odd members that they can expect annual reversionary bonuses of 9 per cent on their 10-year Tax Exempt Privileged Policies. This compares with an insurance industry average for similar bonds of around 3 per cent.

And the Society, all of whose members have signed "The Pledge" not to drink alcohol, is also paying a thumping terminal bonus rate of 35 per cent.

Apparently, a resurgence of interest in healthy lifestyles has helped fuel the Society's recent success. The Rechabite Friendly Society was founded in 1835 to encourage young people to avoid the perils of the demon drink, and was named after the Old Testament Disciples who rejected alcohol. The Society reached a peak in membership in the 1900s, but is now on the way back.

The implications are obvious. If the City is serious about maintaining its position as a global financial centre, the Corporation should set about closing down all the pubs and wine bars in the Square Mile, creating a "Booze-Free" zone. Only then will our investments flourish.

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MORE THAN one in three accountants confessed that they would choose a different career if their had their chance again, according to an authoritative survey by "Accountancy Age" published this week.

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YET ANOTHER top name from the old BT Alex.Brown equities operation has left rather than stick around under the new Deutsche Bank regime.

Noel Medici has moved to Albert E Sharp Securities, the broker owned by South Africa's Old Mutual, to the new position of chief operating officer. Mr Medici will join his former colleagues Edmond Warner, recently appointed as Albert E Sharp's chief executive, and Michael Pauk, BT Alex.Brown's former head of trading, who joined the same broker a fortnight ago as head of market-making. Mr Pauk's brief is to get the broker ready for market-making from next Spring.

Other BT Alex.Brown refugees at Sharps include James Montier, global strategist, who was ranked number three in the 1998 Extel Survey.

Old Mutual, South Africa's biggest insurer, listed in London a fortnight ago and has ambitious plans for its UK operations. Mr Warner is expected to announce more hirings soon.

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AMERICAN HI-TECH nerds love making up irritating new words like "edutainment", meaning cartoons and the like that can be sold to kids' parents as being vaguely educational. I was depressed to see on Friday that Scoot.com, the otherwise blameless Internet company, described itself as "a branded infomediary company".

Isn't it time the Campaign for Plain English stepped in and stopped this kind of thing?

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A MONKEY is worrying Wall Street. And it's not King Kong.

A web site has appeared which invites you to invest 100,000 virtual dollars in Internet shares and see if you can equal the performance of Raven Thorogood III - a chimpanzee.

Raven chooses his stocks by throwing a dart at a dartboard. Last year he chose 10 stocks from a potential 133, and for the year to 29 June his portfolio had risen in value by 50 per cent.

Of course, if Raven goes on being so successful, investors may start to question paying fees to active fund managers.

If you fancy your chances against Raven, click on http://www.monkeydex.com

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